Troy Vincent likens the NFL’s annual rookie symposium to a job orientation program. It’s an opportunity to teach the new crop of talented employees about the game’s history, their own responsibilities and the risks associated with making a living playing the sport.

Many of the biggest pitfalls, though, await once they leave the locker room, and to learn that this new group of rookies needed to only flip on ESPN in the hours awaiting Vincent’s introductory session Wednesday night at the Bertram Inn and Convention Center.

They would’ve seen a 23-year-old tight end named Aaron Hernandez in handcuffs, charged with murder. Three years earlier Hernandez had sat in the same room, surrounded by dozens of other rookies, filled with hope and promise.

“You know, there’s this pink elephant in the room . . . the Hernandez situation,” Vincent, the NFL’s senior vice president of player engagement, told the new crop Wednesday night. “The media has every right to ask you a question about that situation. And you have every right not to engage in that conversation. It is what it is. ”

With that, Vincent went over some of the ground rules for the next three days (curfew is 11:30 p.m., no texting or tweeting during sessions), and the three-day symposium, mandatory for all rookies, with nearly two dozen educational sessions and activities on the docket was formally underway.

The group numbered more than 125 rookies, all from the NFC. The AFC players had gone through the same program earlier in the week. In fact, they were at their final activity — touring the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio — on Wednesday morning at the same time police were knocking on Hernandez’s door in North Attleborough, Mass. The news was inescapable all day.

Among the opening night’s sessions, the NFL had assembled a small group of last year’s rookie class to discuss the transition from being a college player to suiting up as a pro.